College of Music

University of Colorado Boulder

Current Graduate Students

Ari Gagné

Ari Gagné received his BA in Music from California State University – Chico after studying at University of California – Davis and Berklee College of Music. During his graduate studies in Jazz Composition at CSU, Chico he was awarded the opportunity to develop and teach “Intro to Arranging.” As a music lecturer at Butte Community College he taught courses in theory and arranging. He is currently a doctoral student at University of Colorado – Boulder in Ethnomusicology and also pursuing is graduate certificate in Ethnic Studies. Gagné is an active upright and electric bass player and has performed with and opened for many jazz and hip hop greats, including Danilo Perez, Jack DeJohnette, Black Eyed Peas, 2 Live Crew, and Method Man. As a band leader, he has formed and led successful bands whose styles ranged from hip hop to Latin jazz. Gagne’s big band compositions have been premiered by the CSU – Chico Big Band and he continues to be an active composer. Gagné’s current research interests are the interpretation, analysis, and significance of Charles Mingus’ composition Epitaph; how contemporary American gospel is keeping funk alive in America; and the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in New Orleans bounce music. Please check out Ari’s Funk band at

K. Dawn Grapes
Historical Musicology

Dawn Grapes is a Ph.D. candidate completing a dissertation onThe Musical Culture of Death in Early Modern England. Other areas of interest include nineteenth-century American music and music in theology.  Recent awards include a 2010 Ogilvy Travel Grant for research in Oxford and London from the Center for British and Irish Studies. Dawn is currently Special Assistant Professor of Music History at Colorado State University in Fort Collins where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in music history, research, and music theory.  As a Graduate Part-Time Instructor at CU, she taught Introduction to Musical Styles and Music in American Culture and previously taught courses at Front Range Community College and Southern Utah University.  She holds degrees from Western Michigan University and Colorado State University. Ms. Grapes is also an active performer on the flute and piccolo. She is currently a board member of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the College Music Society and a representative to its National Student Advisory Council, as well as a member of the American Musicological Society and the National Flute Association. Selected four times to perform with the National Flute Association Professional Flute Choir, she has performed at national conventions in Anaheim, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Albuquerque and has performed on flute and piccolo with groups such as the Fort Collins Symphony, Opera Fort Collins, Fort Collins Wind Symphony, Cheyenne Symphony and the Grapes-McConathy Duo.  She lives in Windsor with her husband David, children Natalie and David, and cat Shakespeare.

Michael W. Harris
Historical Musicology

Michael Harris is a Ph.D. candidate studying music in Japanese cinema.  While at CU he has taught classes in Asian music and rock history along with one-day adult education courses on Beethoven, The Beatles, and film music (though not all in the same class).  He earned a bachelor of music in bassoon performance from Truman State University (Kirksville, MO) and a master of arts with an emphasis in chamber music from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.  He is currently working on his dissertation entitled Humiwo Hayasaka and the Development of Film Music in Post-War Japan (1945-1955), and was awarded a Beverly Sears Grant from the University of Colorado Graduate School and a Dean’s Small Grant from the College of Music to do research at the National Archives in College Park, MD, in the summer of 2011.  He has presented papers at the Rocky Mountain Chapter meeting of the American Musicological Society and the Music and the Moving Image conference at New York University, and has also conducted research on the film scores of Jerry Goldsmith and Serge Prokofiev.  When not watching movies for research, and occasioanlly pleasure, he still enjoys playing bassoon whenever and wherever he can.  Hailing from suburban Kansas City, MO, he still considers himself a Midwesterner at heart, and longs for the day when his hometown Royals make the playoffs again.

Juliana Madrone
Historical musicology

Originally from Bozeman, Montana, Juliana earned her BA in Philosophy in 2003 from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She participated in arts-focused study abroad programs in Romania and London, and performed on the Great Wall of China with the Montana State University Cello Ensemble. She has taught Music Appreciation courses at the University of Colorado – Boulder, where she helped implement a new perspective on the course by publishing supplemental material to the text integrating concerts on campus with course lectures. Scholarly interests include nineteenth-century historiography, current perspectives in aesthetics, and the relationship between artistic trends in the visual arts and music. A year-long position assisting the review editor for JAMS gave her a new appreciation for the talents of editors. She continues to find time for the piano and cello, while trying not to feel bad about being lapped by 70-year-olds on the trails around Boulder. Foodie interests and the continuing pursuit of the perfect glass of Chateauneuf prevent her from catching said 70-year-olds. She is in the beginning stages of a dissertation on music and nationalism in Sweden in the nineteenth century.

Steven Spinner

Music has always been central in the life of Steven Spinner.  He began playing the saxophone at age ten in Sebastopol, California where he grew up and graduated from Analy High School.  He earned a Bachelors of Music Education from University of Colorado – Boulder in 2005 where he participated in jazz bands, concert bands, and the African Ensemble.  During the summer of 2003 he studied abroad in Ghana under the direction of Professor Kwasi Ampene where he researched the female song tradition Nnwonkoro as well as music education in an Accra secondary school.  After graduating, Mr. Spinner taught band and recorder to students grades three through eight at a public school in Baltimore, Maryland.  He then attended the University of California – Davis where he earned a Masters of Music in ethnomusicology and performed in samba and gamelan ensembles.  In the spring of 2010 he presented a paper titled Presenting African Music in USAmerican Universities at the annual British Forum for Ethnomusicology conference in Oxford, UK.  He also is a member of the Society for Ethnomusicology and regularly attends the national and regional annual conferences.  Mr. Spinner is now a graduate student and teaching assistant at the University of Colorado – Boulder where he is preparing to conduct fieldwork in Accra, Ghana, with amateur choral groups.  General research interests include West African music, jazz, music education, musical communities, and perceptions of amateur versus professional musical activities.  Mr. Spinner continues to play the saxophone in a variety of situations and travels whenever possible; in addition to Ghana he has traveled throughout Europe and to China and Mexico

Sienna M. Wood
Historical Musicology
Personal Website:

Sienna Wood is from Wheat Ridge, Colorado, and earned her BA in Music at Colorado College.  Although she played clarinet throughout her undergraduate career, Sienna ultimately found her niche as a musicologist.  She entered the Ph.D. program in Historical Musicology at CU in Fall 2008, and is on track to take her comprehensive exams in Fall 2011 and begin work on her dissertation.  Her dissertation topic has not yet been chosen, but will focus on Franco-Flemish music of the Renaissance.  Issues of pedagogy surrounding musicology are also an area of interest, and Sienna is currently teaching Music Appreciation to undergraduate non-majors.  In addition to teaching, Sienna has been involved in writing supplemental materials for Appreciation which allow the consideration of specific concert repertoire in class that will later be heard in live performances.  Website front-end development is one of Sienna’s hobbies, and she has authored many commercial and educational websites, both within the field of music and outside of it.  Sienna lives in Broomfield with her husband, Matt.

Cassidy Grunninger
Historical Musicology

Cassidy Grunninger, a PhD student in historical musicology at the University of Colorado – Boulder, is originally from Jacksonville, Florida.  She completed her bachelor of arts in music with a concentration in cello performance at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia in 2009.

While  at  Mercer, Cassidy was  involved  in  various  departments  of  the  music  school,  not  only participating in the orchestra, opera workshop, chamber music, and touring choir, but also taking applied lessons in cello, voice, and piano. Additionally, she was active in her school’s chapter of the music fraternity, Mu Phi Epsilon.  During her time with the Mercer Singers, Cassidy was able to tour both Eastern Europe and Japan.  Cassidy was also a sister of the Chi Omega fraternity.

Following her undergraduate work, she moved back to Jacksonville and attended the University of North Florida, earning a performance certificate in cello.  While attending UNF, Cassidy assisted in teaching the History and Appreciation of Rock and Roll and wrote the program notes for the majority of the orchestra performances.  While at UNF, she presented a lecture recital on Erik Satie and his piano duet Trois Morceaux en forme de poire. 

Cassidy intends to continue her research in early twentieth century French avant- garde music and the development of the modernist aesthetic (and hopefully learn how to ski).

Chase Peeler

Chase Peeler graduated summa cum laude from Baylor University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Music in saxophone performance and a minor in Cultural Anthropology.  During his time there, he was selected by the Baylor faculty as the “Outstanding Senior Man” in the School of Music, and he received the Bernard A. and Bessie Hess Smith Award given to the student with the highest level of academic achievement in the School of Music.  While at Baylor, he received an undergraduate research grant allowing him to study K’iche’ Maya dance-dramas in rural Guatemala during the summer of 2007.  His subsequent field report, entitled “The Deer-Monkeys Dance of Momostenango, Guatemala,” was published in 2008 by the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies as part of an ongoing research project by Baylor anthropology professors Garrett Cook and Thomas Offit.

Chase is currently a third-year doctoral student in ethnomusicology at CU where he has taught World Musics – Asia.  His current research interests include country music, identity, tourism, and transnationalism in the border regions of West Texas; he is also interested in the influence of culture-tourism on music making at traditional music sessions in Ireland.  As a performer, he is active as a freelance saxophonist in the greater Denver area and plays bodhrán and whistle regularly at local Irish sessions.  If he thinks no one is listening, he also enjoys playing guitar and singing folk-country songs from his native Texas.

When not studying, teaching, or making music, Chase can usually be found hoofing it through the Colorado backcountry or casting a fly to rising trout on one of his favorite nearby streams.  An avid backpacker, Chase completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2011; upon graduating he plans to complete his “Triple Crown” with the Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails.

Elaine Hild
Historical Musicology

Elaine is currently completing her dissertation, Medieval Settings of Verse: A Study of the Manuscripts Created at St. Gall prior to 1050, at the Bruno-Stäblein-Archiv, University of Würzburg, Germany.  Her research, supported by the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst and the Fulbright Foundation, analyzes the interaction between verse form, musical setting, and notation, as seen in the monastery’s manuscript collection.

Elaine previously completed a Bachelor of Music degree in viola performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Master of Music degree in musicology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Elissa Daly

Elissa comes from a background of music, dance and information technology.  She earned her Bachelor’s at Wesleyan University, writing an honors thesis examining the collaborations between select 20th century composers and choreographers.  She has taught at Tahoe Conservatory of Music and co-founded the Apple computer retail store and warranty center in Steamboat Springs, CO.  In San Francisco, she played guitar in the touring band, Kumquat, from 1996 to 2001, and released her first full-length CD.  During the past five years, she has been engaging in music and dance primarily from Mali and Guinea.  She plays kamale n’goni, dunun, djembe, and balafon and hopes to return to West Africa soon to conduct fieldwork.  In her free time, Elissa enjoys gardening and backcountry skiing.

Kevin Romero

Kevin earned a BA in Music with an emphasis in classical guitar performance and Spanish from the University of New Mexico in 2001, and studies the art and culture of flamenco from Andalucía, Spain.  His current research is focused on the music theories and musical practices of the many cultures that have influenced flamenco.  Specifically, he is attempting the conceptual combination and synthesis of these many theories into a practical music theory, but which also contextualizes flamenco historically and ethnographically.  Flamenco’s musical influences include the Spanish Baroque guitar, Arabic music, nineteenth-century Spanish Romanticism, nineteenth-century ‘classical’ guitar, and more recently, jazz.  Among Kevin’s other interests are practice theory, poststucturalism, knowledge and power, embodiment, and apprenticeship as a special form of participant observation.

He continues to perform flamenco in the Denver area and is working on publishing some of the works of his friend and mentor José Valle, ‘Chuscales’.  He is also preparing his first CD which will include material by mentors ‘Chuscales’ and Pedro Cuadra as well as original compositions.

Michael Ward
Historical Musicology

An accomplished musician of diverse interests and background, Michael Ward has received many awards in the field.  As a pianist, Mr. Ward has been described as daring and dynamic, yet sensitive and lyrical, with a keen awareness of stylistic propriety.  He is a music theorist with an interest in twentieth century compositional techniques and is also an aspiring musicologist planning to specialize in late nineteenth and early twentieth century French music.  He is also an accomplished composer and is invested in passing on his love and knowledge of music to others as a teacher.

Mr. Ward earned the Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance degree from Lee University in 2004, placing second in the Tennessee Piano Solo collegiate competition in 2003.  While at Lee, he also studied composition with Dr. David Holsinger, winning a national scholarship competition for an original chamber music composition.  Upon graduating with highest honors from Lee, Mr. Ward was given the Performance Award from the Department of Instrumental Music.  He continued his piano studies at the University of Mississippi with Dr. Ian Hominick, earning the Master of Music in Piano Performance in 2006.  While at the University of Mississippi, Mr. Ward was a graduate assistant in Music Theory, working with Dr. Laurdella Foulkes-Levy.  Upon graduation, he was named Graduate Pianist of the Year and received the Graduate Music Theory Award and the Graduate Music History Award.

Mr. Ward served on the piano and music theory faculty of Lee University from 2006-2011.  He continues to be active as a pianist and theorist and is currently pursuing the PhD in Musicology at the University of Colorado Boulder where he is a Teaching Assistant to Dr. Carlo Caballero, Chair of the Department of Musicology.  When he manages to wander from the library or classroom, Mr. Ward along with his wife Katherine, is an avid golfer and rock climber.